Even the most coordinated efforts by unbelieving powers cannot thwart the plan of God, but only advance it. The Lord Jesus stood before the greatest powers of His day, undaunted and undeterred, so that through His silent submission He might purchase our lives for God.
Though He was the Lord and Judge of all the earth, Jesus allowed Himself to be brutally mistreated and unjustly tried before sinful men. He did so in our place, so that we who are guilty of sin might be forgiven through faith in His work on the cross. Even during His corrupt trial, Jesus’ faithful testimony to His own Divinity showed the way to eternal life for all who would trust in Him.
Peter’s denial of Christ was an epic failure. After privately promising loyalty unto death, he publicly, repeatedly, and emphatically denied that he even knew Jesus. But Peter’s supreme failure became the gateway to God’s supreme grace. Jesus would not only forgive and restore Peter but use him to powerfully reach others with the good news of the same mercy he had received. So it is with all His disciples. Our epic failure is the doorway to sharing God’s epic grace through Jesus’ work on the cross.
Jesus’ betrayal in the physical and spiritual darkness of the garden would seem to be a low point in His ministry. Yet even then, the brilliance of our Savior shone forth in His command of the situation, His love for those around Him, and His overarching desire to fulfill His Father’s will. Jesus, the Light of the world, conquered ultimate darkness so that we might enjoy the light of life in Him.
When God does not answer our prayers in the way that we would like, it is easy to think that it is because He is either upset with us or indifferent toward us. But on the Mount of Olives, Jesus proved the contrary. The answer to the most important prayer ever offered, by the most important One who ever lived, at the most important moment in history, was no. If the cup had been taken from Jesus, we would all face God’s wrath for our sins. But God’s negative answer is often the most blessed answer, a truth that strengthens us daily as we continue to trust in Him by faith.
Peter was so vulnerable to Satan’s attack that he remained overconfident even after Jesus’ explicit warning. Likewise, when warned of the challenging days to come, the disciples largely misunderstood His point. But Jesus prayed for Peter and the disciples, just as He prays for us, that our faith would not fail. He died among the transgressors to reconcile us to God. As we underestimate our danger and overestimate ourselves, as we miss the point and miscalculate the cost, Jesus remains the gracious Savior in whom our life and hope are found.
Our world is desperately in need of leadership that follows the example of Christ. In an age of boastfulness, deception, and abuse of power, our homes, churches, and society cry out for leaders who put others ahead of themselves. Jesus shows us the way so that we might not only lead with humility but point others to our Savior in whom all humility and eternal life are found.
The last meal of those condemned to die has become something of a morbid fascination in recent decades, trivial and prying. But as with everything else He did, the Lord Jesus invested His Last Supper with profound significance that would benefit His disciples for millennia to come. Through the Supper, we spiritually feed on the One who is the True Bread of Heaven, giving thanks to the Father for the new covenant of eternal life secured through His blood. It is a meal of remembrance, participation, and hope as we look forward to the ultimate supper of the Lamb yet to come.
We have all known the pain of betrayal as well as the misery of failing to honor those we love. But no one experienced betrayal more deeply than Jesus, the sinless Son of God who was sold unto death by one of His closest disciples. Yet Judas’ horrific betrayal is set within the context of Jesus’ greater fidelity. By faithfully going to the cross, He is able to heal the wounds, forgive the sins, and restore the life of everyone who trusts in Him. His perfect faithfulness conquers even our greatest treachery.
Jesus’ Olivet discourse is a challenging passage filled with symbolism and elements of mystery, yet our Savior’s main message is abundantly clear: the end will surely come and we must keep watching and be ready for His return. We may do so with hope, endurance, and fruitful witness through the grace of the One who finished His work on the cross, Jesus Christ.